Here is the email that went out to the students of the CS 121 class
This e-mail contains an important announcement that is being sent to everyone who is registered for CMSC 12100. Please read it carefully from beginning to end.
Towards the end of the quarter, the CS 121 instructors conduct a final review of all the coursework to identify possible cases of cheating. This final review often uncovers two or three cases each year, but this year we were shocked and dismayed to find that a large number of students in the class have not complied with our Academic Honesty Policy, including multiple cases of students who have shared code, copied code off each other or the internet, or collaborated in some other way that defies our Academic Honesty Policy.
In all our years at the University of Chicago, we have never encountered cheating at this scale, and we are extremely disappointed to find that so many of you would choose to conduct yourselves so dishonorably. Faced with the prospect of having to fail such a large number of students, we have consulted with the Office of College Community Standards (OCCS) on how to proceed, and have decided to offer lesser penalties to students who accept responsibility for certain offenses, under a set of terms we describe below.
Students who do not accept responsibility, and who have been identified as having cheated, will be referred to OCCS with a recommendation that the student receive an F in the class. OCCS may impose further penalties, which the CMSC 12100 instructors will not object to.
You should come forward if any of the following applies to you:
You knowingly shared your code with another student, even if you did not intend for that code to be used or copied (except as allowed in the two pair assignments, PA #2 and PA #4). In this context, “share” should be interpreted broadly: it includes not just sending your entire code to someone else, but also showing your code to others, or working with another person on the same piece of code, even if you each then made individual alterations to it.
You knowingly used code that was shared with you, with or without any modifications, and regardless of whether the person who shared code with you is currently enrolled in CMSC 12100.
You discussed solutions with other students to the extent that your code would line up line-for-line (e.g., by “whiteboarding” code together)
If you come forward and accept responsibility for any of the above, you will, at most, be penalized with zero points in any coursework involving copied or shared code. While your case will still be referred to the College, the CMSC 12100 instructors will not argue for any further penalties, and OCCS will consider resolving your case administratively, without requiring a meeting, as long as you have no prior disciplinary history.
Please note that, if you do come forward, you will not be allowed to take the class Pass/Fail (even if you previously requested to do so) and will not be allowed to withdraw from the class.
To reiterate, if you do not come forward and accept responsibility, and we have already identified your work as problematic, you may have to go through a full disciplinary process with OCCS and could be subject to much harsher penalties in the course. Please note that, with a few limited exceptions, we have not reached out to students whose work has been identified as problematic. If you have copied or shared code, and have not heard from us about this, that does not mean you are in the clear.
We realize that some of you may hedge your bets, and will not come forward because, despite using someone else’s code, you did not submit an exact copy of that code and attempted to cover your tracks (and may try to argue —unsuccessfully— that, because it’s not an exact copy, it can’t possibly be plagiarism). Code plagiarism is a thoroughly studied problem in Computer Science, and our analysis of your code goes beyond just looking for exact matches. There are many factors that can alert us to an inappropriate collaboration between students and, if you copied code, you are practically guaranteed to already be on our list.
If you do decide to come forward, you must reply-all to this e-mail no later than Wednesday, December 16th, at 8am CST and provide the following information:
UChicago Student ID (this is an 8-digit number starting with 1; it is not your CNetID)
The coursework where you used code not written by yourself
The name(s) of the people whose code you used
Please note that, in these cases, both the person providing the code and the person using the code are considered equally guilty parties, regardless of whether the person providing the code had any knowledge that it was going to be used in this manner. We encourage you to notify the other parties involved that you have come forward as a courtesy, and you should let them know that they must independently come forward too. If they do not, they may be subject to harsher penalties.
After we receive your e-mail, we will assess your case and follow up to confirm the penalties (if any) that we will apply, but please note that it may take us several days to do so and, until that time, your grade will appear blank on my.UChicago. If you do not come forward, and we have identified your code as problematic, your case will be sent to OCCS and they will follow up with you at a later time to discuss next steps.
Finally, we would like to once again convey our tremendous disappointment in those of you who elected to cheat your way through CS 121. Your behaviour is unbecoming of a University of Chicago student, and unfair to all the other students who worked hard to learn the material and earn a good grade under challenging circumstances (and whose effort and honorable behaviour we commend).
At a time when we normally join students in celebrating the successful conclusion of the quarter, it is incredibly disheartening that the quarter has to end on such a sour note for all of us.
The CS 121 Instructors